Letter: Public speakers deserved to be addressed at special meeting

To the Editor:

I am writing as a parent of school aged kids in TPS. I attended the special meeting called on Monday, April 25, at the Long Hill Administration Building by the Board of Education.

I was thankful to learn that a compromise was finally reached and the "pink slips" given to all non-tenured teachers were able to be recalled, but as a resident, I was appalled by the way the meeting began and ended abruptly. Over 75 people (mostly teachers and parents) had gathered in the meeting room and no one addressed them at all. Clearly, they had gathered with questions and concerns, but absolutely no time was spent by the Board or Administration in allaying fears or apologizing for the way in which things were handled.

The damage has already been done and any teacher turnover this summer will be because of the way the budget process was mishandled and potential layoffs were communicated. The Town Council should have not voted to approve the Town Budget when it did not include health insurance for our education employees (a $11-12 million line item). That error ended up costing us teachers' faith in the administration. Our non-tenured teachers will no doubt begin to look at nearby schools for a more stable school system where their talents and expertise will be appropriately compensated and honored.

And teachers won't be the only ones to start moving. There are families who have recently moved to Trumbull that have already begun to question their decision to do so. Recently, there was a post on the infamous Moms of Trumbull FB page where a mom of school aged kids was questioning her decision and pondering a move out of this town because of the low test scores and lack of funding and perceived lack of support for our schools from the Town Council and other elected officials. Families are taking notice of how the Board of Education, the Town Council, and the First Selectman work with and treat others around them. How they chose to support (or not support) the budget requested by Dr. Cialfi sends a message to the residents. And it matters in families moving out of Trumbull and therefore the property values of our town will continue to go down (or at the very least take longer to recover from the recession).

I urge all elected officials to work towards keeping residents' and teachers' confidence in their administrators and the town’s elected officials by apologizing to the teachers and public for how the process was handled. Our reputation as a school district and as a community rests in your hands. Show us how leaders lead.

Ruth M.T. Fontilla